Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bicycle music video interlude 5

With reports that the ACCC would issue fines of $1 million dollars!'WTF', to retailers who sell brakeless -gearless bikes known as fixies, lets have a cool music video featuring of course................ fixies!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bowen Place Conundrum

The Cycle path (shared Path) around Lake Burley Griffin has been decribed as Australia best half day ride by Canberra's cycle lobby group Pedal Power. It has taken quite some time to finish all the missing links as there as two agencies responsible for different sections, the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government.
One section that is the National Capital Authority responsibility is Bowen Place in the Parliamentary Triangle and is a dangerous crossing of a four lane road

View Larger Map

There are three options proposed by the NCA after consultation with  a working group which are.....


Ramp and stairs with traffic signals

Traffic signals only

The Bridge option is the most logical as it will not impede car traffic or pedestrian/cycle access to the Kings Ave bridge. Though as nothing is easy in the ACT , the National Trust and the Walter Burley Griffin Society raised heritage concerns about a footbridge as it would have a negative visual impact on 'Parliament House vista and views across and to the lake, and adverse impacts on the design geometry of the parliamentary vista and Kings Avenue Bridge'.
To view this negative impact you would have to take a helicopter view of the site or from the top of Mount Ainslie which is quite ridiculous. Ped / Cycle Bridges can have a sculptural affect and are used in many cities around the world.
Borneo Sporenberg, Amsterdam

Copenhagen, Denmark
Another option which was looked at early but not considered in the final three options was an underpass which would also be the most expensive. This doesn't seem to worry the dutch as infrastructure spending for cyclists and pedestrian has no known boundaries it would seem, is that why there are one of the healthiest and happiest nations?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barriers for Cycling

We have some ridiculous barriers for cycling in Canberra and I mean literally . Just imagine if we put these type of barriers on roads !

The above last two photo's are called 'motor vehicle restriction points' that reduce the pathway width to 1.4 metres at the midpoint of the rails on a 2.4 metre shared path, though  I would say that are also  cyclist restriction points.
These are quite dangerous for cyclist and I note that Bicycle Queensland recently had stated that these type of barriers are dangerous and had asked the Queensland Road and Transport department to have them removed. But as road traffic engineers who no nothing about adequate cycling infrastructure they obligingly refused.
In the Netherlands motor vehicle barriers look like this......

David Hembrow

They are also used to slow mopeds down while riding on the cycle paths. No chance of impaling yourself anywhere here. Infrastructure that is designed to be respectful of cyclists and not to enforce barriers to cycling.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jan Gehl in Hobart

Jan Gehl the well known Danish architect and the guru for making cities for people was in Hobart recently to give his assessment on Hobart's city centre. Very simple make the pedestrian at the top of the transport hierarchy, encourage bicycle use for everyone ,encourage public transport and most important of all is to get rid of cars and car parks .


Jan Gehl also visited Canberra for a short visit and gave the Walter Burley Griffin lecture at the Shine dome late last year. While only spending a day here he took a swipe at our bicycle infrastructure ,the small pathetic bicycle lanes, so that the bicyclist is protecting the parked cars and not the other way round as it is in Copenhagen and many sensible cycling countries.

Jan Gehl, Cities for People

Incidentally the ACT Government issued a Canberra City Action Plan which will see another 3000 more carparking spaces constructed in the city centre. In Copenhagen there are about 2000 car parking spaces for about 2 million inhabitants and here we are constructing more and more carparks. Carparks are expensive and can cost up to $10 000 per surface carpark, $20 000 - $30 000 per car park space in a multi storey carpark and up to $40 000  per carpark space for under ground carparks, and Canberra's car congestion is set to worsen. Why didn't the ACT Government employ Gehl Architects I wonder?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another day ,another ride to school

I have been riding my kids to school for some time now and I have wanted to highlight the trip on video. A friend of mine Sophie has just started to ride to school with her kids so it was good to meet up and ride together.


The rates of walking and cycling to school have dropped dramatically in this country over the last 30 years as now more parents drive their children to school. The consequences have been significant in terms of heath and well being. As governments struggle to implement measures, that try to get more children active, I believe a quick history lesson is all that is needed along with some change in policy and more investment in infrastructure.

The rates for active transport of primary school children  in the Netherlands, are that ,49% cycle ,37% walk and only 14% are brought and collected by car. This sadly would be the reverse Australia and in most Australian cities today. This is also the same for the United States.

This graph would mirror Australia with the only difference a possibly higher rate of cycling and walking to school in the 1970's. Which was between 70 & 80% and a slightly lower obesity rate.

Some schools in the ACT would be lucky to have more than 20 to 30 bicycle 's in there school bike racks these days. This with school population numbers at 350 to 400 students. Even at high schools the numbers are low. This was certainly different a few decades ago..............
Late 1960's Canberra school bike parking

Yet figures have stayed about the same in the Netherlands .There is a real focus on traffic safety and bicycle proficiency with cycle training and testing of Year 6 students before they start high school.

What you see in this video is the use of cycle gardens , a miniature scale of traffic environments .These are used in many European countries to teach children road rules and traffic safety while riding a bicycle.
This is something that we use to do in Canberra with the Traffic training centres located at Deakin and Belconnen . I took some photos recently of the closed Beleconnen site.

A consultant for the Aus. Federal Police who use to run these sites recommended that these artificial environments are not good for children to learn road rules apparently. Though nothing has been implemented to fill the gap on cycle training and road rules training. A private organization has taking it upon themselves to provide cycle education for children, though at only one location it is only a small proportion of the population.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Better Infrastructure - More Cycling

Will more investment in better infrastructure for cycling ,encourage more cycling. I  believe so  and the Australian and local governments need to do more ,but do we have enough tax dollars to go around.
You could argue yes due to the increasing cost of obesity, estimated to be now worth some 58 Billion dollars nationally. Does the saying " if you build it they will come" enough for many governments and councils to improve there cycling and walking infrastructure to lure money from other priorities like health and education.
The Fuel Excise Tax would be a good way to spread the Tax dollars around for transport infrastructure which is estimated at 15 Billion dollars annually, but many motoring groups like the NRMA believe that all that money should be spent on roads for motorized traffic.

Australia was one of the only countries along with Canada to reduce its fuel tax over the last ten years. A view taken by the then Liberal (conservative) Government which believes in lower taxes and small government.They also stopped automatic indexing of the fuel excise according to CPI. 
The Netherlands, second to Turkey (though you don't here about great cyclepaths in Turkey) has spent millions on great cycling infrastructure along with Germany, Denmark . Great Britain taxing nearly as much you wonder why they haven't invested in cycling infrastructure, though with the abolished Cycling England don't expect anything soon.
Raising fuel prices by tax is certainly not a popular one and when fuel prices hit $1.75 per litre here, there was an outcry to further reduce the fuel tax.
Last year as part of the Federal government stimulus package , $40 million was provided from the $650 million Jobs fund project. This was then matched by states ,territories and councils to make the total ,$80 million. This provided much needed infrastructure which should be continued as annual funding. Its a small amount by other country standards.
Maybe with increased funding we can get back to the days when cycling was seen as normal....

Canberra ,late 1940's

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

TED's case' for' and 'against' Helmets

TED has some great speakers from time to time and is well worth the visit to the site . Here I grabbed a couple of video's one by the well known bicycle ambassador Mikael Colville-Andersen and another by neuropsychologist Kim Gorgens.

The case against............


The case for.............